Like so many other WWE superstars, Cody Rhodes has rather unfortunately been stuck in the same spot for a very long time.
Once deemed one of the company’s best up-and-coming stars, Rhodes has had little to no advancement up the card over the last couple of years. Instead, he’s sort of just shifted around the midcard to whatever spot he’s needed in.
From late 2011 to early 2012, he found himself as the focus of the Intercontinental Championship scene. He had a reasonably lengthy reign with the belt and a notable WrestleMania 28 feud with Big Show, but beyond that, his run in the midcard title scene was nothing to write home about.
Not long afterward, Rhodes would make the shift over to that “other” part of the midcard: the tag team division. It was there that he would unite with Damien Sandow to form the wildly entertaining Team Rhodes Scholars, one of the most must-see duos in recent memory.
At least on paper, Rhodes and Sandow should have had and still be having a great run as one of the WWE’s top tag teams. However, the creative team has been so up and down with Team Rhodes Scholars—one week they’re together and the next they’re not—that the team ultimately hasn’t been able to live up to its potential.
Now, we’re one-third of the way through 2013, and yet, Rhodes hasn’t done a whole lot of note over the course of the year—something no one would have predicted just a few short years ago when he was deemed a future World champion
The case of Rhodes, however, is much different than that of once-promising stars like Drew McIntyre or Ted DiBiase, who have lost virtually all hope of ever getting a substantial push again.
Although Rhodes may not be at quite the level we thought he’d by at by now, there are still signs of hope there—like his great, competitive match with Randy Orton on last week’s Raw or the fact that he’s even appearing on TV at all.
But if Rhodes’ match with Orton showed us anything, it’s that Rhodes is more than ready to move up the card. No, scratch that. He has to move up the card ASAP.
Even though Rhodes has won singles and tag team titles and has been involved in main-event angles in the past (The Legacy ring a bell?), he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to advance up the card recently.
In 2010, he never rose above the midcard again after his feud with his former Legacy comrades, Orton and DiBiase, in the first half of the year. Then in 2011, he had a great midcard rivalry with Rey Mysterio before winning the Intercontinental Championship, but being that the IC title is nothing more than a prop these days, that didn’t elevate him up the card, either.
In 2012, Rhodes had a couple of IC title reigns and some random moments of hope with Sandow. But in 2013, we’ve seen a lot more bad than good for Rhodes.
Remember when he jobbed to Alberto Del Rio and John Cena earlier in the year? How about when he inexplicably went missing from TV in 2012?
For whatever reason, the WWE has just been so back-and-forth with what it wants to do with Rhodes that he has sort of been stuck in no man’s land as a result. Other than brief signs of advancement—such as that match with Orton—he’s largely just floated from one spot in the midcard to another.
That’s a shame because Rhodes has all the tools to be a major player in the main-event picture. He’s got the look, the charisma, the experience (he’s already been around for six years), and perhaps most importantly, the in-ring skills to succeed.
If the WWE doesn’t move him up the card, however, that ultimately won’t matter.
A superstar can have all the talent in the world and put on all the great matches that he wants. But we all know that whether or not a superstar succeeds largely depends on the creative team.
Push a talented guy, he is probably going to succeed. Don’t push a guy, and he probably won’t.
Rhodes is certainly a talented guy, but will he be pushed up the card anytime soon? If not, then the WWE is letting one of its best up-and-comers go to waste.
And that’s just silly.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!